Distinguished Young Alumni Award

The Distinguished Young Alumni Awards are given to Hanoverians under the age of forty who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement, civic leadership, or service to Hanover College. The Awards are conferred at the spring Alumni Awards Brunch.
Download Distinguished Young Alumni Awards Nomination Form (PDF)

2014  Award Winners

Jeff Daniels '98

Jeff Daniels ’98 dreamed of one day owning his own Toyota dealership. He started with the company shortly after graduation as a management trainee and quickly moved up the ranks of the Cincinnati Regional Office  where he held a variety of sales and management positions.

In 2006, Daniels became a managing partner at Toyota of Muncie (Ind.), where he has overseen the design and construction of a new state-of-the-art facility, as well as double-digit increases in  year-over-year sales. More recently, the dealership now known as Muncie Auto Group has grown to include Kia and Volkswagen franchises; annual revenues exceed $60 million.

Daniels is a past member of Hanover’s Alumni Board of Directors and currently serves as secretary on the Board of Directors for Muncie/Delaware County YMCA and as chairman-elect for the Muncie/Delaware County Chamber of Commerce Board. He is a member of Muncie Rotary and an active supporter of BSU Athletics Cardinal Varsity Club.

Awards include Ball State Fellows Society Person of the Year Nominee in 2010, Muncie Star Press Top 20 Under 40 in 2013, along with four consecutive years earning both the Toyota President’s Award and Muncie’s Finest New/Used Car Dealership.

He and his wife, Melissa McNulty Daniels ’97, have two children and reside in Yorktown, IN.

Lara Hayes Needham '96

Lara Hayes Needham ’96 currently serves as dean of the School of Communication and director of graduate studies at Bellarmine University.

Responsible for programmatic leadership her duties include hiring and placement of faculty, management of student needs, budget oversight, strategic planning, SACS accreditation and community outreach for both the bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Needham’s duties require frequent collaboration with senior university administrators including other deans, the vice president for academic affairs and the provost.

She is also the founder and CEO of BabyPro, an internationally distributed, award-winning children’s media company that produces sports-themed DVDs for babies and toddlers. BabyPro’s products have appeared in numerous national media outlets including Parenting and Scholastic magazine, and have received fifteen national awards.

In community service, Needham serves on the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, and coordinates the annual Field Day festivities at Sacred Heart Model School.

In 2013, Business First magazine recognized Needham as a top Forty Under 40 achiever.

She earned her master’s in public relations from American University in 1997, and her doctorate in health communication from the University of Kentucky in 2004.

Needham and her husband Todd ’95 have three children and live in Louisville, KY.

2014 Retiring Professors

Professors George Nickas, Robert Rosenthal and Peter Worcester will also be honored at the Alumni Awards Brunch 2014.


2013 Award Winners

Phil Chamberlin `01

Phil Chamberlin ’01 currently serves as research astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and deputy project scientist for the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), launched in 2010 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A leading expert in how solar flares affect technology at Earth and Mars, Chamberlin looks at the affects these solar eruptions have on satellite drag, Global Positioning System (GPS) and in causing power-grid blackouts. He has also worked on various aspects (design, build, test, launch, operations, science analysis) of five current and future NASA and NOAA satellites and seven NASA sounding rockets.

Additionally, Chamberlin leads new, early-stage technological innovations for future spaceflight missions that will study the sources of violent solar eruptions of solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

His significant contributions to science include improving the higher-order correction technique for UV spectrographs in 2003; releasing the first version of the Flare Irradiance Spectral Model (FISM) in 2005; and leading a sounding rocket to measure the definitive solar minimum EUV irradiance reference spectrum in 2009.

Chamberlin began his career as a research scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2005 after earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from that institution. He joined NASA in 2009.

In community service, he participates, almost weekly in outreach activities to encourage K-12 students to get excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and pursue careers in the future.  These include speaking to students and teaching classes at their schools, judging science fairs, giving public lectures to the community and providing advice for student science fair projects.  Chamberlin also takes advantage of emerging resources, such as the Distance Learning Network (DLN), Skype, and Google Hangouts in order to reach out to larger groups of students anywhere in the U.S.

At Hanover, he majored in physics, played football and was a member of Phi Delta Theta.

 Jill Robinson Kramer `98

Jill Robinson Kramer ’98 serves as the associate vice president for planning and research at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Her primary responsibilities include oversight and implementation of the College’s strategic plan, “Accelerating Greatness,” which seeks to improve the College’s student success and graduation rates.

Additionally, Kramer has oversight of the institutional research department and provides leadership for long-range and annual planning with regional chancellors and department heads for the Office of the President.

Among her achievements, she advised, evaluated and convened grantees with relevant resources across the country to achieve a greater impact in the fields of higher education and philanthropy.

Previously, Kramer spent nearly 12 years as a program officer for Lumina Foundation for Education, where she managed grant portfolios, worked with potential grantees on planning and developing initiatives to improve student success, and contributed to creating strategic priorities for the foundation.  

Kramer also served as associate director of special events at the Hudson Institute where she increased board donations for special events, and assisted in planning and implementing major fund raising events, as well as in-house meetings and lectures.

At Hanover, Kramer double-majored in communication and Spanish, with a minor in history, and graduated cum laude. She was also a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Kramer earned a master’s degree in philanthropic studies from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

Her volunteer and civic activities include serving on the board of directors for the Indiana Afterschool Network and the United Way of Central Indiana, where she serves on the strategic planning committee, the Ready to Learn Ready to Earn committee and the Campaign Cabinet. Kramer also volunteers for Dress for Success, the Ball Venture Fund at the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Girl Scouts, for Castleton United Methodist Church, Fall Creek Little League and her kids’ schools. Past volunteer work included CEOs for Cities, Indiana Grantmakers Alliance, Vivian Smith Teen Parenting Home and Indy Reads

She and her husband, Ray, live in Indianapolis with their two children.

 Lori Helton Welker `97

Lori Helton Welker ’97 currently serves as an attorney for Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP in Cleveland, advising clients and litigating business and commercial disputes in product liability, breach of contract, transportation and logistics, bankruptcy and environmental matters in both state and federal courts.

In 2009, Welker served as a public service fellow for the Ohio State Bar Association, researching legal issues in matters of tax and education. She also served as a summer associate for her current law firm in 2008.

Prior to her legal career, Welker spent eight years in public education. She taught seventh grade for the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township in Indianapolis from 1998-99; British literature to 12th grade students at Westfield Washington School District (Ind.) from 1999-00; and ninth grade at Abington School District (Pa.) from 2000-04, where she was on the primary writing team for the 2001-02 National Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence.

From 2004-06, Welker served as assistant principal for the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indianapolis.

Currently, she serves as national tri-chair of alumni giving for Hanover’s Live Our Loyalty Campaign. Welker’s additional community activities include serving as a board member for Englishton Park Presbyterian Ministries, Inc., from 2006-12; national co-chair for Hanover’s James Blythe Presidents’ Club from 2008-10; volunteer for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association 3Rs Program in 2010; and volunteer intern for The Autism Legislation Project in 2007.

At Hanover, she majored in English and was a member of Phi Mu, earning the 1997 Outstanding Greek female award and graduating cum laude. Welker earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and her juris doctor, cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 2009.

She and her husband, Chris ’97, live in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with their daughter.    

 Online Nominations


Community Service
Professional Achievement
Service to the College